ERIK JENSEN stars as Lester Bangs in How to be a Rock Critic, based on the writings of Bangs, scripted by Jessica Blank and Jensen, helmed by Blank, opening tonight (June 11) at South Coast Rep’s Nicholas Studio—a co-production with Center Theatre Group—moving to CTG’s Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City, June 17.
“Some of the themes of this play are about Lester wanting reach other kids who grew up the way he did. Well, that was me. The summer my parents were getting divorced, I was sent away to live with my cousin’s family for a couple of months in Green Bay, Wisconsin. My journey to this play started out with a stack of magazines under my cousin’s bed that were infinitely worse than pornography because they were about ‘rock ‘n roll.’ He had a stack of Rolling Stones going back ten years or more. My cousin was just a big music geek. He even taught me some guitar chords. So, at night I would alternate between my first reading of Lord of the Rings and a Rolling Stone mag. And that is how I first encountered Lester. Growing up in a household where honesty was in short supply, I found him really refreshing. His writing was uncompromising and super honest. I had discovered a true punk ethos at age ten. There is something about reading him and memorizing him while going through all his work that is engrossing because he had such a rich grasp of language and a vocabulary that was out of this world. He has taught me so much.”
Julio Martinez-hosted Arts in Review – celebrating the best in live theater and cabaret in Greater Los Angeles – airs Fridays (2-2:30pm) on KPFK (90.7FM).